Gogol Bordello in Chicago: Celebration without a blackout

Gogol Bordello at the Metro Chicago (Steve Stearns)
Gogol Bordello at Metro Chicago (Steve Stearns)

Gogol Bordello transformed the Metro Chicago stage Wednesday night into a street performance, as my preview for this concert predicted. Each band member had his or her own bottomless tank of energy.

At this 10-year anniversary celebration of Gypsy Punks: Underdog World Strike, Drummer and Dancer Pamela Racine carried a marching drum midway through the set onto a platform upstage, while Singer and Percussionist Pedro Erazo jumped onto the opposing platform with a handprint across his face to shout the stories of the night.

“Yellow is the color of obsessive-compulsive disorder,” shouted Frontman Eugene Hutz of Gypsy Punk’s cover color. Erazo’s face paint must have embodied the inner critic that silences and guards one’s obsessive expressions.

But this concert did nothing to hold back Gogol Bordello’s relentless need for celebration. Hutz’s exclamation of the color’s meaning prefaced the song, “Start Wearing Purple,” another color of insanity in Hutz’s eyes.

Each band member wore his or her own costume, which might have resembled those of gypsies running the streets of Ukraine or New Orleans. New Orleans is one of Hutz’s favorite cities in which to perform, as was previously highlighted. That is for its ability and desire to celebrate “despite all odds.”

Gogol Bordello at the Metro Chicago (Steve Stearns)
Gogol Bordello at Metro Chicago (Steve Stearns)

Although technical difficulties were not of concern at the Metro Chicago Wednesday, Gogol Bordello acted out to a completely packed and sweaty venue how a blackout can bring people together in “Oh No.”

Lyrics like, “Suddenly there is more music/Made with the buckets in the park,” describe the scene that Gogol Bordello paints in all its folkloric songs and performances.

Bassist Thomas Gobena walked up onto the platforms upstage numerous times to calmly show off his place in this party of sounds, while Hutz ran back and forth on stage, kicking his legs in the air, and jumping for pride. Although this band is a slew of accordion, violin, bongos and more, each instrument proudly stands out on its own.

Hutz shows his fans that this venue can act as a place of union, with his several offers of the mic to front row audience members mid-song. After all, pride and celebration are what this band stands for – even in times of sorrow and fear across the world.

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Elif Geris
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